The play opens in the club's bare, dank locker room with Harry, an aging janitor, shoveling coal into a small stove. Gradually the players drift in to begin their pregame rituals: the bandaging and banter, the flexing of muscles and fussing with equipment. Finally dressed, the players are sent out for the match on a hard-frozen field. As the second act opens the game is in progress but the club's chairman, Sir Frederick Thornton, and secretary, Mac Mackendrick, have taken refuge from the numbing cold in the locker room. They are still there, and the battered players are spilling into the room at halftime as this excerpt begins. Luke, the masseur, swabs cuts and tends sprains. Meanwhile, Crosby, the coach, and his assistant, Sandford, try to rally and advise the players. The team then returns to the pitch, but in the course of the second half a forward named Kendal (see cover) is severely injured. Bloody and delirious, he is helped to the locker room in the play's most compelling moment.
FENCHURCH—Jesus! Jesus! Bloody hell.
LUKE—Here...Let's have a look. Come on.
JAGGER—(following him in) It's nothing...bloody nothing...
FENCHURCH—Bloody studs, you see...Just look!
(He holds his hand up, wincing, as LUKE takes it. He groans, cries out, as LUKE examines it. The others are beginning to flood in: stained jerseys, gasping, bruised, exhausted. HARRY brings in two bottles of water which the players take swigs from. They spit into a bucket which MOORE has carried in)
LUKE—Nothing broken. It'll be all right.
SANDFORD—Do you want me to bind it for you, then?
FENCHURCH—No, no. No...No.
JAGGER—Can't hold the ball with a bandage on.